Effective Use of Technology in the Classroom
Effective Use of Technology in the Classroom
Throughout the years, many students have struggled with history courses, especially geography. America and many other countries have experienced a technology boom over the last century; unfortunately, much of this boom has not reached the classrooms of many schools today. In response to this, a growing number of stakeholders now call for teachers to use technology in the classroom, an idea that teachers should embrace. While research shows that technology can play a vital role in the classroom, the teacher must take advantage of the technology in appropriate ways. By doing this, an educator creates a classroom that demands respect from stakeholders, fosters a learning environment for students and prepares students for future success. By failing to do this, an educator creates an environment that makes learning a near impossibility.
According to Lidstone and Stoltman (2006), the lack of well-equipped technology stands as a barrier to innovative learning in many schools. Lidstone and Stoltman argue that while many politicians and educators claim they want to build a community of constant learners, they do not put the necessary tools in place to achieve this. The authors find this amazing in world where people can “Google” nearly anything to learn about it. In addition, the authors fear that even though geographical technology exists, students do not receive adequate training in geography to take advantage of the technology. In order to create a situation where life long learning will occur, teachers must create a classroom environment that encourages the use of technology, while providing students with the fundamental skills and knowledge necessary for success. In many ways, this challenge resembles a balancing act that may prove difficult (Lidstone & Stoltman, 2006).
John Winn (2003), a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army and an assistant professor in the United States Military Academy, found that technology such as PowerPoint benefits students in all courses, especially the social sciences, if the teacher uses the technology in the correct manner. Winn encouraged teachers to create slides that challenge and engage students in the classroom. Winn said technology will only be beneficial if it is presented in a manner that stimulates thought.
Winn (2003) warned that too many teachers do not know how to effectively use PowerPoint technology in their classroom. When this situation occurs, teachers, instead of fostering learning and development, actually start to stunt the two. According to Winn, several things may cause this to happen in many ways: wordy slides, boring backgrounds, and useless information to name a few. In these instances, teachers may feel that they are benefiting their students, but in actuality they hurt their students.
While Winn mentioned ways overzealous teachers may hurt their students, Amy Pauw (2002) warned teachers against becoming lazy and attempting to use technology to replace their teaching. She did not feel that teachers should abandon technology, but she believed teachers should use technology to teach in new ways. She gave examples such as presenting artwork to students through slides as a way to replicate some learning experiences which may be impossible to reproduce otherwise. In her courses at a seminary, Pauw takes advantage of technology to design lesson and save them for future occasions. She argued that teachers should take advantage of this aspect of technology to save time in creating the lesson, allowing teachers more time to research and prepare for the lesson at hand. When a teacher implements technology in this manner, the classroom experience enriches the student.
In the end, however, research shows that technology cannot replace strong teaching in the classroom. Paul Witt (2004) conducted research about the impact of technology on teacher respect and students’ expectations of learning. Witt found that introducing a secondary website to a course does not increase teacher respect or improve students’ expectations of learning. Witt said this attitude may occur because of several factors: limited Internet access, slow download times, or the perception that more work is being created for the student.
While many authors based their findings on a college classroom, the message holds great significance for grade school teachers. Many people view college students as people who want to learn new information, but this does not always hold true when discussing students in grade school. If some college students have problems with technology being used in the classroom, It just proves more evident that grade school teachers must find ways to address this issue with their students.
Today, technology allows for students in social studies courses to be engaged by all five senses in the classroom. Students in a geography class can see pictures, hear music, taste and smell foods or drinks, and hold objects from around the world. The movement pushing for the use of technology in the classroom is a step in the right direction to create the appropriate learning environment for the future. However, educators must be willing to take this movement to a new level, and in the process, be willing to increase their workload in some ways. Teachers must learn how to use technology, in an effective manner, and they must successfully sell their students on its use in the classroom. While teachers do this, they must always remain an effective teacher for every student.
Lidstone, J. & Stoltman, J. (2006). Searching for, or creating, knowledge: the roles of
Google and GIS in geographical education. International Research in
Geographical & Environmental Education, 15(3), 205-209.
Pauw, A. (2002). Discoveries and dangers in teaching theology with powerpoint.
Teaching Theology & Religion, 5(1), 39-41.
Winn, J. (2003). Avoiding death by powerpoint. Journal of Professional Issues in
Engineering Education and Practice, 129(3), 115-118.
Witt, P. (2004). Students’ perceptions of teacher credibility and learning expectations in
classroom courses with websites. Community College Journal of Research &
Practice, 28(5), 423-434.